On Growing Words and Lettuce

Our Garden Growing

Our Garden Growing

I have been a craptastic gardener this summer, but you’d never know it from my backyard.

Instead of everything shriveling up and blowing away as it surely would if things were left to me, our gardens are thriving. That’s all Lee’s doing. He’s picked up the slack where I’ve left off, and then some. He’s out there every morning and night, sprinkling and fertilizing and examining our plants. He weeds and tends and warns the cats, birds, bugs and groundhogs who stop by to check things out that they are messing with the wrong shit.

I know he misses the way I used to be equally obsessive about a weed sticking up here or a thirsty plant there. But he also forgives me. Last summer, I was working a million hours a week, floating in the pool, fretting about turning 40, and helping tend our gardens. This summer, I am working a million hours a week,  floating in the pool, not really giving a rat’s butt about turning 41, and writing my butt off.

Something has to give in the life of a day-jobbing writer in order for stories to take any kind of shape. Inventing Man-Whores and landscapers with stomach troubles takes a lot of time and energy. Because Lee loves our garden so well and tends it so faithfully, it is one of the things I have felt comfortable letting go.

As we move into mid-June, I have several completed short stories and the beginnings of a novel. Lee has given us a garden thriving with fat green tomatoes, scallions, squash, cucumbers and lettuce. The pepper pants were wilted and sad in spite of his efforts, so he removed them from the garden and potted them. They are coming to life now, perking up and promising to grow. My wilting stories are not always as easy to revive. They tend to be pushed aside as I focus on the ones that are thriving.

In the evening, I sometimes go out and look at our garden, inhaling the earthy scents of things green and growing on a muggy Maryland June night. I watch the fireflies begin their flashy sundown dance and enjoy that delicious shiver I get when a bat or two swoops overhead.  I let my computer-weary eyes take in the beauty around me and am so thankful that I have him to keep this going as I turn to other ventures. Without him, I wouldn’t have this living, breathing anchor for my sanity. 


Our Lettuce

This weekend, Lee plucked a few leaves from our leaf lettuce and brought them in. They were like flower petals, only crisper. I rinsed them and put them on a plate and gave them a dash of salt and a splash of apple cider vinegar, and we ate them just like that. The soft but crunchy, sweet but tangy taste of summertime.

And then I went back to my word-garden, where a Man-Whore is trying to grow, and he went back outside to set up the sprinkler.

They say it takes a village to raise a child. For me, it takes a family to raise a novel. Unlike many writers, I was not one who wrote well or often in the years that I felt disconnected and drifting and homeless in spite of the fact that I had a mortgage. My words come better now, when there is a garden outside my window.

Growing life, whether that life is green things or a fictional tale, is so much easier when your house is a home.

And if my efforts to grow a word-garden that will one day feed us fails, there will always be plenty of lettuce.

Pam and Lee

Pam and Lee


About hawleywood40

Writer, Steelers Fan in Baltimore, Frequent Visitor to the Shot Fairy
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16 Responses to On Growing Words and Lettuce

  1. Really nice post. Sounds like you have a great guy. The understanding of family and friends is super important if you’re going to be a writer.

    • hawleywood40 says:

      Thanks Diana! My transition into being a serious writer has been a learning experience for us both. I am so blessed to have someone who encourages and supports my goals, and doesn’t even get mad at me when I say “shhhhh … I’m writing!” (lovingly, of course!).

  2. Shelly says:

    Very nice pos. I enjoyed it.

  3. Marcia says:

    Great imagery! And a great relationship! Perfect.

  4. EDC says:

    You’re garden looks much better than ours! This year we tried to grow plants from seed – tomatoes and a bunch of herbs, mostly. Most came up quite well indoors, but as we tried to acclimate them to outdoors (slowly), they didn’t fare too well. Of course, I live in the ATL area and we’re in the midst of a pretty brutal heatwave. Maybe that has something to do with it. You ought to add to your list of projects “The Writer’s Guide to Gardening”… I could sure use that right now! EDC

    • hawleywood40 says:

      Thanks! I have to give Lee all the credit. He’s got a green thumb and loves gardening and landscaping as much as I love writing, which means I get to enjoy the bounty of all his hard work : ).

  5. chris says:

    I can certainly relate to this, as I’m trying to juggle my garden, my writing and my other work. Judging from that netting around your garden in the first pic, you have wild beasts dying to get at your veggies, just like I do. They’re fun to watch, except when they eat your lettuce.
    May your novel and your vegetable patch thrive and flourish.
    Thanks so much for visiting my blog. I’m enjoying yours.

    • hawleywood40 says:

      Thanks Chris! I’m wishing the same success to you. Yes, we have a groundhog who comes snooping around our garden every year. I love watching him though : ). And my neighbor has outdoor kitties who decided last year that our garden was a community litter box. Don’t think they like the netting much at all!

  6. Katy says:

    What a lovely post! I wouldn’t know where to begin with gardening, but I like the analogy very much.

  7. As always great post and not only because you include me lol. We should take some more pics because the ones you posted here you can actually see how humid it is around here just by the haze on the camera lens.

    • Critters and bugs are a gardens worst enemy, keep them at bay is the beginning. Bugs can be much worst than lack of water, if plants are saggy add water they come back, let bugs eat your crop they don’t come back. To keep bugs away try using alittle dish soap mixed with water in a spray bottle and spray right on the plants leaves and fruit. Pams mom gave me that advice and swears by it. Also Miracle Grow every 7 – 14 days and ever let the dirt get dry completly, always keep the dirt moist and at least saturate the dirt once a week maybe twice awhile other days a light misting

  8. akamonsoon says:

    This is really great Pam. I really enjoyed how you compared your gardening to your writing and it all makes perfect sense. No wonder you are such a great writer. 🙂

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